TCRLA_Public/050218.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                    L A T I N   A M E R I C A

          Friday, February 18, 2005, Vol. 6, Issue 35

                            Headlines


A R G E N T I N A

BANCO HIPOTECARIO: Moody's Affirms Ratings Following Acquisition
BELFRUT S.R.L.: Court Revises Liquidation Schedule
BUSSINET S.R.L.: Reports Submission Set
FRIGORIFICO BUENOS AIRES: Seeks Court Approval to Reorganize
GRUPO GALICIA: Sees Improvement in 4Q04, FY2004 Results

HRD S.A.: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
KLEINBORT CASA LA CENTRAL: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debts
PAPELERA IRIARTE: Reports Submission Set
REPSOL YPF: Reveals $1.1B, 5-Yr. Mendoza Investment Plan
SUDAMERICAN S.A.: Individual Reports Due May 23

* GCAB Issues Memo on Argentine Legislation, Bondholder Remedies


B R A Z I L

BANCO BRADESCO: UBS Lowers Share Recommendation
BRASKEM: Net Income Jumps 221% in 2004
HSBC BANK BRASIL: S&P Releases Ratings Report
SABESP: Planned Debenture Issue Now Under CVM Scrutiny
UNIBANCO: Share Sale Generates $279M

UNIBANCO: Joao Dionisio Amoedo to Join Board
USIMINAS: Intends Cosipa Stake Buy at March 18 Auction


C O L O M B I A

* COLOMBIA: IMF Head Praises Government's Economic Programs


D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

TRICOM: Revenues Up 13.9% in the 4Q04


J A M A I C A

AIR JAMAICA: Two Executives Leave Airline
KAISER ALUMINUM: Announces Details of New Credit Facility


M E X I C O

BALLY TOTAL: Accounting Irregularities Investigation Begins
GRUPO ELEKTRA: Net Income Up 60% in 2004
ISSSTE: $11.63B Loss Likely Without Pension Reforms
RUBBERMAID DE MEXICO: DoveBid to Conduct Webcast Auction
SATMEX: CEO Leaves Post

TV AZTECA: Reports 46% EBITDA Margin in 4Q04


P E R U

MINERA VOLCAN: 4Q04 Net Income Drops on Higher Tax Payments


V E N E Z U E L A

CANTV: Indecu Questions Implementation of Voice Mail Services
CANTV: Purchases 3G Communications Equipment From Axesstel
PDVSA: Negotiates Joint Venture Agreement With Shell
PDVSA: Signs Cooperation Deal With Petrojam

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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A R G E N T I N A
=================

BANCO HIPOTECARIO: Moody's Affirms Ratings Following Acquisition
----------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service affirmed its ratings for Banco
Hipotecario following the bank's announcement that it has agreed
to acquire the Argentine operations of Banca Nazionale del
Lavoro (BNL).

Banco Hipotecario said it would be acquiring 100% of BNL
Inversiones Argentinas S.A. for $207 million. In exchange, BNL
will acquire 3.7% of Banco Hipotecario's shares with a book
value of $25 million.

Moody's noted that the acquisition should allow Banco
Hipotecario to diversify its franchise and expand its role as a
commercial bank in Argentina. The acquisition of BNL's branch
network represents an opportunity for Banco Hipotecario to
enhance its local funding, distribution and cross-selling
capabilities, as well as to capitalize on a more positive trend
in lending and fee generation, particularly in higher margin
sectors.

Moody's also said that this substantial acquisition brings with
it the typical transition and operational risks inherent in
merging distinct management and credit cultures, as well as
labor issues. Other challenges for Banco Hipotecario's
management include a highly competitive bank retail market as
well as Argentina's still difficult operating environment.

Moody's noted however that management's track record in
adjusting the bank's operations in the midst of Argentina's
financial crisis and its successful restructuring of the bank's
large external debt load suggests a platform for success in
absorbing the acquisition.

Moody's noted that the bank's Aa1.ar National Scale Rating (NSR)
for local currency deposits, which represents a high relative
ranking domestically, is underpinned by its important franchise
in a key economic sector and the government's important minority
ownership and say in its mission. As a result, it would have
priority access to institutional liquidity support. The NSR is
also supported by Banco Hipotecario's management and
strengthened balance sheet following its successful external
debt restructuring.

The agency also explained that Banco Hipotecario's E financial
strength rating, similar to that of other Argentine banks,
reflects its diminished intrinsic strength and economic capital,
in a still uncertain operating and country risk environment. The
bank's Caa2 foreign currency deposit rating is constrained by
the Argentine country ceiling.

Banco Hipotecario is Argentina's largest mortgage originator
with $3.0 billion in assets as of December 31, 2004.

The following ratings were affirmed:

Long Term Foreign Currency Deposit Rating: Caa2, stable outlook

Short Term Foreign Currency Deposit Rating: Not Prime

Bank Financial Strength Rating: E, stable outlook

Long Term National Scale Rating for Local Currency Deposits:
Aa1.ar, stable

New York
Jeanne Del Casino
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
M. Celina Vansetti
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


BELFRUT S.R.L.: Court Revises Liquidation Schedule
--------------------------------------------------
Court No. 19 of Buenos Aires's civil and commercial tribunal
moved key events in the Belfrut S.R.L. liquidation case to these
dates:

- Claims Submission Period - March 16, 2005
- Submission of Individual Reports - April 29, 2005
- General Report Submission - June 13, 2005

Local accountant Irma Susana Aguilera serves as the court
appointed trustee on this case. The City's Clerk No. 38 assists
the court with the proceedings.

CONTACT: Belfrut S.R.L.
         Terrada 2137
         Buenos Aires

         Ms. Irma Susana Aguilera, Trustee
         Luis Saenz Pena
         Buenos Aires


BUSSINET S.R.L.: Reports Submission Set
---------------------------------------
Mr. Juan Alberto Krimerman, the trustee assigned to supervise
the liquidation of Bussinet S.R.L., will submit the validated
individual claims for court approval on August 16. These reports
explain the basis for the accepted and rejected claims. He will
also submit a general report of the case on October 18.

Infobae reports that Court No. 9 of Buenos Aires' civil and
commercial tribunal has jurisdiction over this bankruptcy case.
Clerk No. 17 assists the court with the proceedings.

CONTACT: Mr. Juan Alberto Krimerman, Trustee
         Uruguay 594
         Buenos Aires


FRIGORIFICO BUENOS AIRES: Seeks Court Approval to Reorganize
------------------------------------------------------------
Frigorifico Buenos Aires S.A.I.C.A.I. Y F. requested for
reorganization after failing to pay its liabilities, reports
Infobae.

The reorganization petition, once approved by the court, will
allow the Company to negotiate a settlement with its creditors
in order to avoid a straight liquidation.

The case is pending before Court No. 2 of Buenos Aires' civil
and commercial tribunal. Clerk No. 3 assists the court on this
case.

CONTACT: Frigorifico Buenos Aires S.A.I.C.A.I. Y F.
         Donato Alvarez 1152
         Buenos Aires


GRUPO GALICIA: Sees Improvement in 4Q04, FY2004 Results
-------------------------------------------------------
Leading Argentine banking conglomerate Grupo Financiero Galicia
posted a net loss of ARS35.7 million ($12.3 million) for the
fourth quarter 2004, an improvement from the previous year's net
loss of ARS94.8 million.

Full year 2004 net loss came in at ARS109.9 million, also an
improvement from a full year 2003 net loss of ARS222.2 million.

The group, whose main subsidiary is Banco de Galicia y Buenos
Aires, did not explain the narrower loss but the financial
sector has been recovering steadily overall since an economic
crash in 2002.

Banco de Galicia posted a loss of ARS108.6 million in 2004
versus a loss of ARS204.5 million in 2003, the group said.

The share price for Grupo Financiero Galicia, the most heavily
weighted stock in Argentina's benchmark MerVal index, has
climbed gradually after hitting rock-bottom at the peak of
Argentina's financial collapse three years ago.

CONTACT:  GRUPO FINANCIERO GALICIA
          Teniente General Juan D. Peron 456, Piso 2
          1038 Buenos Aires, Argentina
          Phone: +54-11-4343-7528


HRD S.A.: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
-------------------------------------------
HRD S.A. Enters bankruptcy protection after Court No. 18 of
Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal, with the assistance
of Clerk No. 18, ordered the Company's liquidation. The order
effectively transfers control of the Company's assets to the
court-appointed trustee who will supervise the liquidation
proceedings.

Infobae reports that the court selected Mr. Enrique Carlos
Quadraroli as trustee. Mr. Quadraroli will be verifying
creditors' proofs of claims until the end of the verification
phase on March 30.

Argentine bankruptcy law requires the trustee to provide the
court with individual reports on the forwarded claims and a
general report containing an audit of the Company's accounting
and business records. The individual reports will be submitted
on May 11 followed by the general report that is due on June 23.

CONTACT: Mr. Enrique Carlos Quadraroli, Trustee
         Parana 425
         Buenos Aires


KLEINBORT CASA LA CENTRAL: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debts
---------------------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires-based Kleinbort Casa La Central S.A. will begin
liquidating its assets following the bankruptcy pronouncement
issued by Court No. 8 of the city's civil and commercial
tribunal.

Infobae reports that the ruling places the Company under the
supervision of court-appointed trustee Ricardo Sukiassian. The
trustee will verify creditors' proofs of claims until March 18.
Next, the validated claims will be presented in court as
individual reports on May 3.

The trustee will also submit a general report, containing a
summary of the Company's financial status as well as relevant
events pertaining to the bankruptcy, on June 14.

The bankruptcy process will end with the disposal of the
Company's assets to repay its creditors.

CONTACT: Kleinbort Casa La Central S.A.
         Warnes 1396
         Buenos Aires


PAPELERA IRIARTE: Reports Submission Set
----------------------------------------
Individual reports form the Papelera Iriarte S.R.L. bankruptcy
case are due for court submission on May 23. The individual
reports detail information on claims submitted by creditors
during the verification period.

Infobae states that trustee Edgardo Alberto Borghi will submit
these claims in court. The trustee is also required to present a
general report of the case on June 6.

Court No. 5 of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal
handles this case with assistance from Clerk No. 10.

CONTACT: Mr. Edgardo Alberto Borghi, Trustee
         Luis Viale 2176
         Buenos Aires


REPSOL YPF: Reveals $1.1B, 5-Yr. Mendoza Investment Plan
------------------------------------------------------------
Spanish-Argentine petroleum Company Repsol YPF SA (REP) plans to
invest US$1.1 billion in Argentina's Mendoza province in the
next five years.

The money will be spent on "exploration, production and the
development of reserves," with this year's expenditures totaling
US$140 million, local Company spokesman Lucas Mendez said.

The investments would also include upgrading the Lujan de Cuyo
refinery in western Argentina to meet new gasoline sulfur
requirements taking effect in 2008, Mendez added.

Repsol announced separately last month that it planned to invest
a total of US$1.2 billion in Argentina this year alone on
various projects.

CONTACT: Repsol YPF, S.A.
         Paseo de la Castellana 278
         Madrid, 28046
         Spain
         Phone: 34-1-348-8100
         Web site: http://www.repsol.com


SUDAMERICAN S.A.: Individual Reports Due May 23
-----------------------------------------------
Court No. 5 of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal
expects to receive individual reports from the Sudamerican S.A.
bankruptcy case on May 23. Afterwards, trustee Ernesto Horacio
Garcia will also submit a general report of the case on August
2. The general report provides the court with an audit of the
Company's accounting and business records.

CONTACT: Mr. Ernesto Horacio Garcia, Trustee
         Montevideo 536
         Buenos Aires


* GCAB Issues Memo on Argentine Legislation, Bondholder Remedies
----------------------------------------------------------------
GCAB received the following information on the possible effects
of recent Argentine legislation:

     MEMORANDUM
     New York

     Date: February 15, 2005

     To: GCAB

     From: Owen C. Pell

     Re: Recent Argentine Legislation and Bondholder Remedies

On February 11, Argentina promulgated legislation that put into
written law measures that are designed to negatively effect or
destroy the value of Bonds held by GCAB members and their
customers/depositors. As discussed below, the Argentine
Legislation may well create opportunities for GCAB and its
members to pursue a different and more efficient litigation path
against Argentina. This path would be based on the possibility
of binding arbitration proceedings against Argentina before the
International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes
("ICSID").

This memo is preliminary in nature and is meant to provide an
introduction to the issues raised by the Legislation. Set forth
below are a brief review of (i) the current litigation
situation; (ii) the Argentine Legislation; (iii) the basis for
relief under the ICSID regime; (iv) the potential advantages of
an ICSID award over a U.S. court judgment; and (v) the so-called
"Helms Amendment".

The Current Litigation Situation

As we have discussed, at present, GCAB's ability to oppose or
frustrate the Argentine Exchange Offer are limited. Argentina
defaulted on its debt in 2001. To date, some individual
creditors have received judgments in U.S. federal court, but
have had little success in locating, and no success in attaching
or executing on, any Argentine assets. In the 12 class actions
that have been filed, Judge Griesa has certified only two
classes representing about US$ 3.5 billion of Argentina Bonds
(about 4.3% of the outstanding principal in default).

Although Judge Griesa allowed GCAB to appear in the Urban case
as an amicus curaie, and agreed with our view that Rule 23 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure did apply to the Exchange
Offer, he made clear that he was not prepared to enjoin the
Exchange Offer under current circumstances. Judge Griesa,
however, did order that an Appendix that GCAB helped prepare and
that was critical of the Exchange Offer could be transmitted to
bondholders with the class notice. This (and GCAB's successful
amicus appearance) was a fairly unprecedented result under U.S.
law, and was a first in any debt restructuring litigation.
Nonetheless, these victories did not block the Exchange Offer,
they simply shifted the focus of the battle to the public
markets where GCAB has been waging an effective campaign to
convince bondholders not to tender into the Exchange Offer.

Over the last few months, GCAB members have sought advice on
their options with regard to U.S. litigation and their ability
to prevent or impede the movement of funds by Argentina under
the Exchange Offer or otherwise. As you know, U.S. litigation
options are limited. While it would be better to have more
certified classes, that probably will not happen before the
current termination date of the Exchange Offer, nor is there any
assurance that Judge Griesa would, in any event, ever enjoin
another version of the Exchange Offer. In addition, the value
(real or in terroram) of an eventual U.S. judgment, even a
significant judgment on behalf of large classes, appears limited
because Argentina has made itself seemingly judgment-proof.
Moreover, there is no assurance of intercepting Argentina's
payments under the Exchange Offer or under future debt
offerings, including because Argentina will employ trust
structures and other measures to place funds beyond the reach of
current bondholders.

Finally, to date, Argentina has avoided official conduct that
might be labeled an "expropriation" or "repudiation" of the
Bonds. That is, the Exchange Offer does not preclude amendment,
extension, or future offers, and the Most Favored Creditor
clause appears to allow for side or other future settlements
with Bondholders above the levels offered in the Exchange Offer.
The only contrary messages have been "tough talk": oral comments
by Argentine government officials that the Exchange Offer would
be the last offer and no other payments would be made. As such,
remedies premised on expropriation or repudiation were not yet a
focus because Argentina had been careful in its Exchange Offer
documents to avoid creating facts to support that kind of claim.

The Argentine Legislation

The new Argentine Legislation appears to change the legal status
quo significantly (the following is based on unofficial
translations) in four ways:

     1. The Argentine Executive branch may not re-open the
Exchange Offer authorized by the Legislature. (Article 2)

     2. The National Government may not make any kind of
judicial, out of court or other private settlement involving the
Bonds. (Article 3)

     3. The Executive branch is to take all steps necessary to
delist the Bonds from any Argentine or foreign exchange.
(Article 4)

     4. It appears that any Bonds deposited in Argentine courts
(we have not pinned down what categories of Bonds this effects)
and that have not already opted into the Exchange Offer will be
replaced as of the Exchange Date under the authorizing
legislation with the 2038 Argentine Peso Bonds available under
the Exchange Offer. (Article 6)

With regard to Bonds held outside of Argentina and payable
outside of Argentina under foreign law (e.g., U.S. Dollar bonds
payable in New York under New York law), U.S. law is clear that
the Argentine Legislation should not be recognized or applied.
Thus, Argentina should not be able to act against Bonds located
outside of and payable outside of Argentina.

The Legislation, however, appears to establish significant
evidence of repudiation or expropriation. The Legislation
specifically prohibits additional or extended versions of the
Exchange Offer and also precludes other settlements or private
transactions involving the Bonds. Thus, the Exchange Offer is
final and appears to leave dissenting Bondholders with no
additional consensual source of payment by Argentina (indeed,
even full repayment might be prohibited to the extent it is
viewed as a settlement outside the current Exchange Offer).
Delisting is recognized as something that harms the value of any
security by eroding liquidity and transferability. Finally, as
to Bonds within its reach, the Argentine government appears to
be expropriating old debt in favor of new, less valuable, debt.
It also does not appear that there is an effective remedy in
Argentine courts with respect to the effects of the Legislation
or any delisting, let alone for the existing payment defaults.

The ICSID Convention Regime

Argentina has signed 29 Bilateral Investment Treaties ("BITs"),
including with Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United
Kingdom and the United States. The U.S.- Argentina BIT appears
to be indicative:

     1. The Bonds should be viewed as "investments" which
includes debt and contract rights. (Article I)

     2. Investments must receive the full protection of
international law. They may not be "impaired" by "arbitrary or
discriminatory measures."  (Article II)

     3. Investments may not be "expropriated" or "nationalized"
or subject to measures "tantamount to expropriation or
nationalization." If such measures occur, "prompt adequate and
effective" compensation must be paid. This is defined as "[(i)]
equivalent to the fair market value of the expropriated
investment immediately before the expropriatory action was taken
or became known ... [and shall (ii)] include interest at a
commercially reasonable rate from the date of expropriation,
[(iii) be fully realizable; and [(iv)] be freely transferable at
the prevailing market rate of exchange on the date of
expropriation." (Article IV)

     4. Before initiating arbitration, the parties are to
attempt to consult and negotiate for six months. (Article VII)
Argentina's BITs with some European nations appear to have
somewhat different consultation clauses, which will need to be
reviewed.

     5. Argentina consents to disputes being submitted to
arbitration, including under the Convention on the Settlement of
Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other
States, done at Washington, D.C., March 18, 1965 (the "ICSID
Convention"). (Article VII) ICSID is located in Washington,
D.C., and the ICSID Convention has been signed by 156 nations.
Under the ICSID Convention, the Bondholders would name an
arbitrator, who would then participate in the selection of a
chairman for a three-person tribunal. In our experience, ICSID
has been a sympathetic and fair forum for creditors.

     6. Any arbitral award is final, binding, and shall be paid
without delay. Argentina must enforce awards in its territory.
Also, ICSID awards become enforceable under the ICSID Convention
and the United Nations Convention for the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the "New York
Convention" signed by over 160 nations), such that they have the
force of judgments issued by the highest court of any signatory
state. (Article VII)

The Legislation would appear to make official what Argentina has
been saying for several years with respect to its repudiation of
payment obligations on the Bonds, thereby creating an
expropriation or impairment that cannot be remedied under
Argentine law, nor does Argentina appear to be offering just
compensation to remedy the impairment. As such, the Legislation
would appear to create a claim under the BITs. Significantly, it
may be possible to consolidate Bondholder claims before an ICSID
tribunal, such that GCAB Bondholders from different nations may
pursue their BIT-related claims together.

The Advantages Of An ICSID Award

In our experience, nations pay their ICSID awards. Moreover, if
they don't, award holders have advantages over the holders of
U.S. judgments. U.S. judgments are not automatically respected
under non-U.S. laws, and are not accorded the weight given to
ICSID awards under the ICSID and New York Conventions, which are
treated as judgments of the highest court of any signatory. For
example, under current Argentine law, it is unclear how
enforceable any U.S. judgment on the Bonds would be in
Argentina. Under ICSID and the New York Convention, Argentina is
obligated to honor ICSID arbitral awards in Argentina.

In addition, an ICSID award may be used to attach broader
categories of property under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign
Immunities Act than a conventional U.S. judgment. Unlike regular
judgments, arbitral awards may be enforced against sovereign
property used for commercial activity without a showing that the
property was used for the commercial activity at issue in the
claim. Accordingly, any and all Argentine property used for
commercial activity (including property relating to future debt
issuances) could be subject to attachment and execution.

Thus, using the ICSID procedure may hold real advantages over
U.S. proceedings, including U.S. class action proceedings,
especially given the difficulties U.S. judgment holders have had
to date in enforcing their judgments outside of Argentina.

The Helms Amendment

Given the applicability of the U.S.-Argentina BIT, it also
should be noted that GCAB members in the United States may be in
a position to effectively compel Argentina to participate in an
ICSID proceeding relating to the Bonds. The so-called "Helms
Amendment" "prohibits U.S. foreign aid, including U.S. approval
of financing by international financial institutions, to a
country that has expropriated the property [or renounced a
contract] of a U.S. citizen or corporation ... where the country
in question has not

     (A) returned the property,

     (B) provided adequate and effective compensation ... as
required by international law,

     (C) offered a domestic procedure providing prompt, adequate
and effective compensation in accordance with international law,
or

     (D) submitted the dispute to arbitration under the rules of
the [ICSID Convention] or other mutually agreeable binding
international arbitration procedure."

In the 1990s, following the alleged expropriation of property
owned by an American investor, Costa Rica refused to submit to
ICSID arbitration. The American investor invoked the Helms
Amendment and delayed a US$ 175 million loan from the Inter-
American Development Bank to Costa Rica. Costa Rica consented to
the ICSID proceeding, and the American investor ultimately
recovered US$ 16 million.

Conclusions

Based on the above, it appears that the Argentine Legislation
actually may present GCAB and its members with additional
options for putting pressure on Argentina and for pursuing their
rights on their Bonds.

As noted above, this memorandum is preliminary and is intended
to be a brief introduction to the issues presented. We would
welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues presented further,
and/or to provide additional information regarding ICSID.

About GCAB

GCAB was formally established in January 2004 by representatives
of all the major foreign bondholder constituencies of defaulted
Argentine debt, and consists of a broad-based group of holders.
The Steering Committee represents holders from Germany, Italy,
Japan, Switzerland, the USA and other countries. Its retail and
institutional members hold approximately US$40 billion in
defaulted debt of Argentina, accounting for 45% of the principal
amount of US$82 billion in outstanding Argentine debt and 73% of
all outstanding Argentine debt held outside Argentina. In order
to download its recent Investor Roadshow Presentation, the Urban
Class Action Appendix to the class notice distributed in
connection with the Urban Class Action filed in the United
States, a GCAB general membership form, position papers or
obtain additional information, please visit the GCAB website at
http://www.gcab.org.

For those interested in more information about joining GCAB's
ICSID efforts please contact: icsid@gcab.org

    GCAB Contact:
    Hans Humes
    Greylock Capital Associates, LLC, (212) 808-1818

    Nicola Stock
    Associazione per la Tutela Degli Investitori in Titoli
      Argentini (3906) 676-7603

Investors in Argentine securities must make their own
evaluation, analysis and decision with respect to participation
in any exchange offer, restructuring, debt swap or other
transaction, based on such information as they deem appropriate
after consultation with their own advisors and without reliance
upon this communication or any materials contained herein or
furnished herewith or upon GCAB or any of its members,
affiliates or advisers. Any such evaluation, analysis and
decision should be based on, among other matters, the investor's
own views as to the financial, economic, legal, regulatory, tax
and other risks and consequences associated with Argentina's
exchange offer, including but not limited to the consequences of
declining to participate in any exchange offer proposed by
Argentina, the structure, terms and conditions of any proposed
new securities, the Argentine political situation and economy,
convertibility and exchange rate risks, and risks posed by
developments in other emerging market countries.

GCAB and each of its members, affiliates and advisors disclaims
any and all liability relating to any exchange offer or other
transaction proposed by Argentina or any creditor's decision
regarding its participation or non- participation in any such
exchange offer or any transaction or any litigation pursued by
or on behalf of such creditor either individually or in concert
with others, whether or not such decision was made in whole or
in part based on information furnished by or obtained through
GCAB.



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B R A Z I L
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BANCO BRADESCO: UBS Lowers Share Recommendation
-----------------------------------------------
Brazilian Banco Bradesco (BBD) had its shares downgraded by UBS
on Wednesday to neutral-2 from buy-2, reports Dow Jones
Newswires.

"We expect stronger returns in 2005, but the market has priced
in most of that more favorable view," UBS said in a research
note.

UBS said that, after a gain of 24% in the last two weeks, the
analysis team wasn't prepared to recommend adding Banco Bradesco
shares at current prices.

Banco Bradesco's common shares as of late morning Wednesday were
down 2.16% at BRL68.00, while preferred shares were down 1.52%
at BRL78.60.

Banco Bradesco is the largest private bank in Brazil in terms of
assets.


BRASKEM: Net Income Jumps 221% in 2004
--------------------------------------
Braskem S.A. (NYSE:BAK)(BOVESPA: BRKM5)(LATIBEX: XBRK), leader
in the thermoplastic resins segment in Latin America and one of
the largest Brazilian privately-owned industrial companies,
announced Wednesday its financial results for 2004 and 4Q04.

HIGHLIGHTS:

- In 2004, Braskem had record net income of R$691 million,
corresponding to a 221% increase compared to 2003. EBITDA
increased by 43%, from R$1.8 billion in 2003 to R$2.5 billion in
2004. The Company also had constant growth in its operating,
economic and financial performance indicators. EBITDA margin
increased from 19% to 23%.

- All of Braskem's business units operated at utilization rates
in excess of 90% in 2004. In 2005, the Company's production
capacity will be at its highest, due to investments made in
2004, which totaled R$374 million, in addition to other
investments that will be completed in 2005. Braskem also plans
to operate its units at utilization rates higher than those
recorded in 2004.

- In 2005, the Company also believes that a positive and
additional impact on its results will be generated by
productivity and competitiveness improvements resulting from its
"Braskem +" an operational and business excellence program aimed
at positioning the Company among the most competitive
petrochemical companies in the world and which should offer
additional gains estimated at R$420 million on an annualized and
recurring basis. In 2004, the year Braskem Plus was implemented,
this program generated gains of R$90 million, also on an
annualized and recurring basis, 50% greater than the previously
estimated goal for the year.

- In 2004, domestic market sales of Braskem's thermoplastic
resins -- polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC -- increased by
13% growth compared to the previous year, driven by the
increased demand for these products in Brazil and due to the
continuing expansion of the Brazilian economy in 2004. Gross
revenues exceeded R$14 billion, and net revenues increased by
20% compared to 2003, totaling more than R$11 billion.

- The Company maintained its strategic presence in the
international market in 2004. Exports provided net revenues of
US$710 million, 15% higher than the amount recorded in 2003.
The increase of international resin prices fully offset the
reduction in the volume of exports.

- Braskem carried out the largest issuance made by a Brazilian
Company in the international market in 2004, in an aggregate
amount of R$1.2 billion. In addition, it was highly successful
in the implementation of its net debt reduction strategy. At
year end, its net debt totaled R$3.9 billion, a 38% decrease
compared to the amount recorded at the end of 2003. Braskem's
net debt/EBITDA ratio was reduced to 1.5 in December 2004,
compared to 3.5 at the end of the previous year.

CONTACT: Braskem S.A., Sao Paulo
         Investor Relations:
         Mr. Jose Marcos Treiger
         Phone:(+55 11) 3443 9529
         E-mail: jm.treiger@braskem.com.br
                 or
         Mr. Luiz Henrique Valverde
         Phone: (+55 (11) 3443 9744
         E-mail: luiz.valverde@braskem.com.br
                 or
         Mr. Vasco Barcellos
         Phone: (+55 (11) 3443 9178
         E-mail: vasco.barcellos@braskem.com.br

         Web site: http://www.braskem.com.br/


HSBC BANK BRASIL: S&P Releases Ratings Report
---------------------------------------------

CREDIT RATING
  Local currency                               BB/Stable/B
  Foreign currency                             BB-/Stable/B

OUTSTANDING RATING(S)
Counterparty Credit
   Local currency                              BB/Stable/B
Counterparty Credit
   Foreign currency                            BB-/Stable/B
Certificate of deposit
  Local currency                               BB/B
Certificate of deposit
  Foreign currency                             BB-/B
Senior unsecured
  Foreign currency                             BB-
Subordinated
  Foreign currency                             BB-

Major Rating Factors

Strengths:
    * Expected support from HSBC Holdings PLC, as the local
operations are aligned with the global strategy of the parent
    * Improvements in earning power and profitability

Weaknesses:
    * Greater challenge in dealing with higher-risk consumer
finance segment
    * Like all Brazilian banks, HSBC Bank Brasil is exposed to
the risk of operating in the volatile Brazilian environment

Rationale

The local-currency rating assigned to HSBC Bank Brasil S.A.
(HSBC Brasil) reflects the inherent risk of operating in the
volatile Brazilian environment and the challenge of dealing with
the higher-risk consumer finance segment. On the other hand, the
rating also incorporates the benefit of being fully owned by
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBC; A+/Stable/A-1), and improvements in the
Brazilian subsidiary's earning power and profitability-due in
great part to the bank's consumer finance strategy.

HSBC Brasil benefits from belonging to one of the largest
banking groups in the world, and the ratings incorporate the
parent's support-although it might not be forthcoming in times
of systemic risk. In this line, HSBC Brasil also benefits from
the technology and knowledge of its parent regarding risk
control and monitoring, since HSBC replicates its control tools
in all its subsidiaries around the world. In Standard & Poor's
Ratings Services' opinion, HSBC's Brazilian businesses are fully
integrated to the global operations of its parent, and benefit
from managerial support.

HSBC's asset quality deteriorated since 2003 (since the
acquisition of Losango) due to the change in the profile of the
loan portfolio. This was a conscious move of the bank, as it
sought the higher margins of this type of asset. The acquisition
of Lloyds' consumer finance operations in Brazil (Losango)
helped HSBC Brasil to increase its credit portfolio 43% in
December 2003 compared to December 2002. Nevertheless, the bank
presented a deterioration in its nonperforming loans ratio
(measured by credits classified from the E to the H category
according to local regulation) to 8.9% in December 2003 from
4.5% in December 2002. This ratio reduced to 7.9% in June 2004
but, offsetting this reduction, its net charge-off to average
customer loans increased to 6.0% from 4.5% in December 2003.
Asset quality, however, is expected to gradually improve and
become more in line with that of competitors, also helped by the
better economic environment in Brazil. HSBC has been successful
in monitoring its credit portfolio and calibrating its systems,
and is expected to maintain a profitable retail/consumer finance
business.

HSBC's strategy in Brazil is to consolidate itself as a global
bank, providing all types of services to individuals, middle
market, and large corporate clients. As opposed to other foreign
players, even in times of turbulence (like it was in 2002), HSBC
has sustained a strong rhythm of growth for its domestic
operations-revealed by the annual average increase of its credit
portfolio of 30% from 2001 to June 2004 (unaudited figures as
per September 2004, but in line with June figures).

HSBC's profitability is weak when compared to that of other
Brazilian retail banks (average ROA of 1.5%-2.0% for major
retail peers) explained by the lower-than-peers revenues from
fee generation and the still-high operating costs as compared to
revenues generation, but the bank's annualized return on assets
increased to 1.2% in June 2004 (unaudited figures as of
September 2004 show a similar ROA ratio) from 0.7% in 2003 and
0.8% in 2002. We recognize that HSBC's profitability is in an
upward trend. Also, HSBC has constantly focused on cost
reduction. After acquiring Bamerindus (1997), HSBC implemented
its "Managing for Value" restructuring plan that, among other
characteristics, had the objective of establishing systems and
procedures to improve the cost/expenses control in the bank's
operations. This plan was successful-the efficiency ratio
measured by noninterest expenses to total revenues fell to 71%
in June 2004 from 81% in 2002. While this ratio is still high
when compared to other Latin American players, a further
improvement in this ratio is expected given the expected
increase in the bank's credit revenues after 2004. In addition,
the institution has adopted strategies to increase its cross
selling, which has already positively impacted fees' revenues
(average increase of 18% during the past four analyzed periods).

HSBC's capitalization is adequate for an international bank. The
bank's asset-weighted ratio of 13.4% as of June 2004 is higher
than that requested by local authorities. In addition, as a
subsidiary of HSBC Holdings PLC, the bank has access to capital
when needed.

Outlook

The stable outlook on the foreign currency rating reflects that
on the sovereign credit rating on Brazil. The stable outlook on
the local currency rating balances the benefits of implicit
parental support and our expectation that the bank will be able
to maintain and improve its credit and efficiency ratios
(respectively) during the implementation of its retail-oriented
strategy.

Primary Credit Analyst: Tamara Berenholc, Sao Paulo
(55) 11-5501-8950; tamara_berenholc@standardandpoors.com

Secondary Credit Analyst: Claudio Gallina, Sao Paulo
(55) 11-5501-8938; claudio_gallina@standardandpoors.com


SABESP: Planned Debenture Issue Now Under CVM Scrutiny
------------------------------------------------------
Brazil's securities regulator (CVM) is now evaluating a request
by Sao Paulo state water utility Sabesp to issue BRL300 million
(US$116 million) in debentures, reports Business News Americas.

Sabesp (NYSE: SBS), Brazil's largest water utility in terms of
clients, plans to issue the debentures in two series: one for
200,000 debentures at BRL1,000 each and the second for 100,000
debentures at BRL1,000 each.

Banco Santander Brasil will manage the issue.

According to a Sabesp investor relations spokesperson, one-third
of the money collected from the issue would go to pay
obligations on a fifth debenture issue due April 1 and the rest
to pay other debts during the first half of 2005.

CONTACT:  Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo
          Helmut Bossert
          Head of Investor Relations
          Rua Costa carvalho, 300
          Pinheiros - CEP 05429-900
          Sao Paulo, S.P.
          Brazil
          Tel: 011 55 11 3388-8664

          Marisa de Oliveira Guimaraes
          Investor Relations
          Tel: 011 5511 3388-9135
          marisag@sabesp.com.br

          Rua Costa carvalho, 300
          Pinheiros - CEP 05429-900
          Sao Paulo, S.P.
          Brazil
          Web site: http://www.sabesp.com.br


UNIBANCO: Share Sale Generates $279M
------------------------------------
Brazilian bank Unibanco-Uniao de Bancos Brasileiros S.A
(Unibanco) sold a total of 45.9 million so-called "units" that
formerly represented the minority stakes of Germany's
Commerzbank and Italy's Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL),
reports Business News Americas.

The sale generated Unibanco BRL718 million (US$279 million) with
the units sold at BRL15.65 per unit. Each unit represented one
preferred share of Unibanco and one preferred share of its
parent Unibanco Holdings.

Foreign investors picked up most of the units on sale, buying
some 26.1 million units, followed by investment funds purchasing
approximately 10.9 million units.

CONTACT: Unibanco-Uniao de Bancos Brasileiros S.A.
         Unibanco Holdings
         Avenida Eusebio Matoso 891
         Sao Paulo, 05423-901
         Brazil
         Phone: 55-3789-8000
         Website: http://www.unibanco.com.br


UNIBANCO: Joao Dionisio Amoedo to Join Board
--------------------------------------------
Unibanco announces that, in the next Shareholders' Meeting, it
will propose the election of Joao Dionisio Amoedo to its Board
of Directors.

After playing a key role on the restructuring of the Wholesale
Area, Mr. Amoedo, due to personal reasons, will not be able to
dedicate himself on a full-time basis to Unibanco. As soon as
the shareholders approve his indication, he will join the Board
of Directors, which is currently formed by Pedro Sampaio Malan
(Chairman), Pedro Moreira Salles, Arminio Fraga, Israel
Vainboim, Gabriel Jorge Ferreira, Joaquim Francisco de Castro
Neto, and Pedro Bodin.

The executive functions of Joao Dionisio will be under the
responsibility of Demosthenes Madureira de Pinho Neto. Mr. Pinho
Neto will lead both the Wholesale and the Wealth Management
areas. The Proprietary Trading will be independently managed
from the Wholesale and Wealth Management areas.

CONTACT: Investor Relations Area
         Unibanco - Uniao de Bancos Brasileiros S.A.
         Ave. Eusebio Matoso 891
         15th floor - Sao Paulo
         SP 05423-901- Brazil
         Phone: (55 11) 3097-1980
         Fax: (55 11) 3097-6182
         E-mail: investor.relations@unibanco.com
         Web site: www.ir.unibanco.com


USIMINAS: Intends Cosipa Stake Buy at March 18 Auction
------------------------------------------------------
Belo Horizonte-based steelmaker Usiminas plans to buy the 6.2%
stake it does not already own in flat steel unit Cosipa in an
auction on March 18 on Sao Paulo's Bovespa stock exchange.

According to a Business News Americas report, Usiminas is
offering to buy the outstanding ordinary and preferred shares at
BRL1.20 (US$0.46) a share.

The plan still needs approval by two-thirds of Cosipa
shareholders. If approved, Cosipa would become a wholly owned
subsidiary of Usiminas on March 23, three business days after
the auction.

Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A. (Usiminas) is an
integrated steel producer with annual installed capacity of
9.5Mt including Cosipa's flat steel production.

CONTACTS: Mr. Bruno Seno Fusaro
          e-mail: brunofusaro@usiminas.com.br

          Ms. Luciana Valadares dos Santos
          e-mail: lsantos@usiminas.com.br

          Mr. Douglas Lee Arnold
          e-mail: darnold@usiminas.com.br

          Mr. Matheus Perdigao Rosa
          e-mail: mprosa@usiminas.com.br

          Phone:(55 31) 3499-8710
          Web Site: http://www.usiminas.com.br/



===============
C O L O M B I A
===============

* COLOMBIA: IMF Head Praises Government's Economic Programs
-----------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement on February
16 in Bogota at the Conclusion of his Visit to Colombia:

"I am very pleased to be in Bogota, at the start of my current
trip to four of the Andean countries. This is my fifth visit to
Latin America since I took office in June of last year. I was
privileged to meet with President Alvaro Uribe, Finance Minister
Alberto Carrasquilla, Banco de la Republica General Manager Jos‚
Darˇo Uribe, and other members of the President's economic team
over lunch. Earlier, I met with congressional leaders,
representatives of labor unions, and with local economists. I
also had the opportunity to visit the Hogar Sagrada Familia and
the Hogar Comunitario, and see first hand the government's
efforts to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable.
Later I shall meet with business leaders.

"In my discussions with the President and his economic team, we
focused on the situation in Latin America and in the global
economy. There is a clear sense that the region is currently
enjoying its best growth performance in a decade and Colombia's
pursuit of sound economic policies has ensured that it is
sharing fully in the upswing. Indeed, Colombia's economic
program that has been supported by a precautionary Stand-By
Arrangement from the Fund has already delivered clear dividends.
Growth has steadily increased, inflation has declined to
relatively low levels, the external situation is comfortable,
and the public debt is on a clear downward path.

"The government is currently formulating a successor economic
program for which they intend to request continuing Fund support
through another precautionary Stand-By Arrangement. As part of
this program, the government is looking to entrench
macroeconomic stability, consolidate fiscal sustainability, and
undertake structural reforms crucial to raising growth and
employment and reducing poverty in Colombia. In particular, the
authorities intend to well preserve central bank autonomy as
part of their inflation targeting regime, while continuing
fiscal reforms would make the tax structure and spending more
efficient, and strengthen fiscal coordination among different
levels of government.

"We agreed that the sustained fiscal reforms would improve
public savings and create room for expanding public and private
investment in Colombia. In Colombia, as well as in other
countries in Latin America, infrastructure needs are
appropriately being given high priority, within a framework of
assuring overall fiscal sustainability. I discussed with
President Uribe the initiatives that are currently underway in
the Fund to help countries better meet their infrastructure
needs. Colombia is among the countries that is participating in
a pilot project toward this end and the Executive Board of the
IMF will meet this spring, to develop the lessons and the
priorities yielded by the experience of the nine countries that
are part of the initiative. For Colombia, there is room to
increase reliance on public-private partnerships and to give
public enterprises a sufficiently commercial orientation that
would attract increased investments in priority areas.

"Finally, I welcome Colombia's continuing active fight against
money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Colombia is
part of the IMF's action plan in these areas that should help
improve the investment climate.

"We at the IMF support the government's economic program and
President Uribe's vision for the future of Colombia's economy.
We are confident that the authorities will meet the challenges
facing Colombia, and we wish the country every success", Mr. de
Rato said.

CONTACT: International Monetary Fund
         External Relations Department
         700 19th Street, NW
         Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

         Public Affairs
         Phone: 202-623-7300
         Fax: 202-623-6278

         Media Relations
         Phone: 202-623-7100
         Fax: 202-623-6772



===================================
D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
===================================

TRICOM: Revenues Up 13.9% in the 4Q04
-------------------------------------
Tricom, S.A. (OTC Pink Sheets: TRICY - News) announced Wednesday
consolidated unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter
and year ended December 31, 2004. For the fourth quarter 2004,
Tricom reported an increase in revenues by 13.9% from results
for the fourth quarter of 2003. The increase reflected increased
subscriber growth in core domestic businesses as well as
improved macroeconomic condition. During the 2004 fourth
quarter, the average value of the Dominican peso with respect to
the U.S. Dollar increased by approximately 26 percent from the
third quarter of 2004. However, despite recent macroeconomic
improvements, the Company's financial results for 2004 were
affected by a decrease over the full year in the U.S. dollar
translation value of the Company's Dominican Peso revenues.
During 2004, the average value of the Dominican peso declined by
approximately 36 percent compared to the average value in 2003.

"We are pleased to report our first quarter of double-digit-
revenue-growth in over two years", said Carl Carlson, Chief
Executive Officer. "In 2004 we improved the quality of our
customer base and achieved strong subscriber growth in our core
domestic businesses despite historically low levels of capital
investments. The sale of non-strategic assets and stronger
collections performance improved our liquidity position during
the past year. We are encouraged by the recent improvements in
the Dominican economy and anticipate a modest macroeconomic
recovery in 2005."

Results of Operations

Operating revenues grew 13.9 percent to $54.6 million for the
2004 fourth quarter compared to the same period in the previous
year, driven primarily by domestic telephony and mobile
services, offset by lower long distance revenues. For the year,
operating revenues totaled $188.0 million, a 5.5 percent
decrease from total operating revenues in 2003.

Long distance revenues decreased by 28.3 percent to $17.2
million in the 2004 fourth quarter, and by 22.0 percent to $71.8
million for the year, primarily due to lower international long
distance traffic, derived from the Company's wholesale and
retail operations in the U.S., as well as lower average
termination rates to the Dominican Republic.

Domestic telephony revenues increased by 60.9 percent to $21.3
million in the 2004 fourth quarter, and by 9.4 percent to $65.1
million for the year, primarily as a result of a higher average
number of lines in service and price increases, together with
the positive impact of the appreciation of the average value of
the Dominican peso during the fourth quarter. At December 31,
2004, the Company had approximately 153,000 lines in service,
representing an 8.2 percent increase from lines in service at
December 31, 2003. New line sales totaled approximately 45,000
during 2004 compared to 34,000 during 2003. Net line additions,
representing new local access line customers less cancellations
and Company-initiated disconnections, totaled approximately
12,000 during 2004 compared to a decrease in net lines of
approximately 9,000 in 2003.

Mobile revenues increased by 46.4 percent to $9.8 million in the
2004 fourth quarter driven primarily by higher mobile subscriber
additions coupled with the increase in the average value of the
Dominican peso. For the year, mobile revenues increased by 9.7
percent to $32.1 million primarily due to higher airtime
minutes, offset by a lower average mobile subscriber base.
Mobile subscribers at December 31, 2004 decreased by 20.6
percent to approximately 346,000 compared to the number of
mobile subscribers at the end of 2003. The decline in subscriber
resulted primarily from Company initiated disconnections of
approximately 200,000 low-usage subscribers in the first half of
2004. During the 2004 fourth quarter, the Company's gross mobile
subscribers additions totaled approximately 72,000 compared to
57,000 added during the 2003 fourth quarter. Net mobile
subscribers additions (new mobile subscribers less cancellations
and Company-initiated disconnections) were approximately 12,000
during the 2004 fourth quarter compared to approximately 6,300
during the 2003 fourth quarter. During the year, the Company
added approximately 290,000 gross mobile subscribers, and
approximately 112,000 net mobile subscribers, excluding Company
initiated disconnections.

Cable revenues increased by 52.9 percent to $4.6 million for the
2004 fourth quarter and by 0.5 percent to $13.7 million during
the year. The growth in 2004 fourth quarter cable revenues
resulted from the increase in the average value of the Dominican
peso as well as higher monthly cable service fees. For the year,
the lesser growth rate resulted from higher service fees being
offset by currency devaluation over the entire period as well as
a lower average cable subscriber base. At December 31, 2004,
cable subscribers totaled approximately 59,000, a 3.4 percent
decrease from the number of cable subscribers at December 31,
2003. The decline in cable subscribers is primarily attributable
to a weak economic environment. During 2004 the Company
instituted a number of customer care and retention programs
designed to reduce churn and increase customer satisfaction. As
a result, the Company's average monthly churn rate for cable
television services declined to 1.3 percent during the 2004
fourth quarter compared to 2.8 percent during the 2003 fourth
quarter, and to 1.8 percent in 2004 compared to 3.9 in 2003.

Data and Internet revenues increased by 63.5 percent to $1.7
million for the 2004 fourth quarter, and by 19.3 percent to $5.4
million for the year, mainly due to the growth of the Company's
data and Internet subscriber base, as well as the positive
impact of the rise of the average value of the Dominican peso
during the fourth quarter. At December 31, 2004, data and
Internet access accounts totaled approximately 15,000,
representing a 7.2 percent increase from the number of data and
Internet subscribers at December 31, 2003.

Consolidated operating costs and expenses, net of impairment
charges on the Company's long-lived assets recorded during the
fourth quarter of 2003, decreased by 11.7 percent to $61.1
million in the 2004 fourth quarter, and decreased by 3.8 percent
to $230.1 million for the entire year 2004. The decrease in
fourth quarter operating costs and expenses resulted primarily
from lower special item charges and restructuring costs related
to the Company's financial restructuring efforts, as well as
lower costs of sales and services. These decreases were partly
offset by higher non-cash depreciation and amortization charges
and higher selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A).
SG&A expenses increased by 25.0 percent to $18.5 million in the
2004 fourth quarter, primarily due to higher energy and
occupancy costs, marketing expenses, as well as the impact of
the currency appreciation over peso-denominated expenses. For
the full year 2004, SG&A expenses decreased 9.0 percent to $56.4
million due to cost control and expense reduction efforts, as
well as lower Dominican peso-denominated expenses resulting from
currency devaluation during the first nine months of the year.

Cost of sales and services decreased by 17.9 percent to $22.1
million during the 2004 fourth quarter, and by 1.8 percent to
$89.4 million during the year primarily due to lower transport
and access charges, resulting from reduced international long
distance traffic volume and cable programming fees. Depreciation
and amortization charges increased by 26.2 percent to $19.0
million during the 2004 fourth quarter, and by 8.3 percent to
$76.1 million during the year due to a shorter estimated life of
the Company's depreciable asset base following its 2003 year-end
asset impairment analysis.

Interest expense totaled approximately $19.2 million in the 2004
fourth quarter and $63.6 million for the year, compared to $18.6
million in the 2003 fourth quarter and $65.6 million in 2003.
The Company suspended principal and interest payments on its
unsecured debt obligations and principal payments on its secured
indebtedness beginning in October 2003. The Company recorded
$591,000 in foreign currency exchange losses during the 2004
fourth quarter, and $2.7 million during the year, attributed to
the impact of the rise of average value of the Dominican peso on
the Company's peso-denominated liabilities.

The Company recognized losses from discontinued operations in
Central America totaling $40.7 million for the fourth quarter of
2003 and $46.7 million for 2003. The Company will continue to
report losses from discontinued operations in the periods they
occur. Net loss totaled $25.5 million, or $0.40 per share for
the 2004 fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $276.1
million, or $4.27 per share during the 2003 fourth quarter. For
2004, net loss totaled $102.7 million, or $1.59 per share
compared to a net loss of $338.9 million, or $5.25 per share in
2003.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Total debt amounted to $448.3 million at December 31, 2004,
compared to $449.3 million at December 31, 2003. Total debt
included $200 million principal amount of 11-3/8 percent Senior
Notes due in September 2004, approximately $33.7 million of
secured debt and approximately $214.6 million of unsecured bank
and other debt.

At December 31, 2004, the Company had approximately $17.7
million of cash on hand compared to $2.4 million on hand at
December 31, 2003. The increase in cash resulted from the sale
of non-strategic assets, including the Company's former Central
American trunking operations and idle mobile frequencies in the
Dominican Republic, for an aggregate of approximately $17
million, of which we have received approximately $14 million
during 2004, as well as from higher cash provided by the
Company's operating activities. For the year, the Company's net
cash provided by operating activities totaled $22.9 million
compared to net cash provided by operating activities of $7.3
million in 2003.

Capital expenditures totaled $9.8 million during the 2004 fourth
quarter and $15.8 million during the year, compared to $3.6
million during the 2003 fourth quarter and $10.8 million during
2003. Capital expenditures were made primarily for the
installation of additional lines, mobile network enhancements
and other network improvements.

Financial Restructuring Update

Since October 2003, the Company has suspended principal and
interest payments on its outstanding unsecured indebtedness and
principal payments on its secured indebtedness. As a result, the
Company is in default with respect to its outstanding
indebtedness, approximately $400 million principal amount as of
December 31, 2004.

As previously announced, the Company continues to engage in
discussions with the holders of its indebtedness, which includes
an ad hoc committee of holders of its 11-3/8 percent Senior
Notes due 2004, regarding an agreement on a consensual financial
restructuring of its balance sheet. The Company's future results
and its ability to continue operations will depend on the
successful conclusion of the restructuring of its indebtedness.

Since these negotiations are ongoing, the value and treatment of
the Company's existing secured and unsecured obligations, as
well as that of the interest of its existing shareholders, is
uncertain at this time. Even if a restructuring can be
completed, the value of the Company's existing debt securities
and instruments is expected to be substantially less than the
current recorded face amount of such obligations, and investors
in the Company's equity interests, including the American
Depository Shares, are expected to receive little or no value
with respect to their investment.

About TRICOM

Tricom, S.A. is a full service communications services provider
in the Dominican Republic. The Company offers local, long
distance, mobile, cable television and broadband data
transmission and Internet services. Through Tricom USA, it is
one of the few Latin American based long distance carriers that
is licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to own
and operate switching facilities in the United States. Through
its subsidiary, TCN Dominicana, S.A., it is the largest cable
television operator in the Dominican Republic based on its
number of subscribers and homes passed.

To see financial statements: http://bankrupt.com/misc/TRICOM.htm

CONTACT:  Miguel Guerrero, Investor Relations
          Ph (809) 476-4044 / 4012
          E-mail: investor.relations@Tricom.net
          URL: http://www.tricom.net



=============
J A M A I C A
=============

AIR JAMAICA: Two Executives Leave Airline
-----------------------------------------
Two of Air Jamaica's top executives are exiting the troubled
carrier in the wake of Gordon "Butch" Stewart's (AJAG Group)
pull out, reports the Jamaica Observer. The resignations,
however, are not part of the restructuring being undertaken
subsequent to the government takeover.

On Tuesday, Brian Shilling officially stepped-up as the new
general manager for sales and operations of US Airways Vacations
after his stint as head of Air Jamaica Vacations. Air Jamaica
Vacations is the Miami-based subsidiary of the national airline.
Meanwhile, Chief Operating Officer John Lewis, the airlines'
logistical expert, is expected to leave today although a formal
announcement has not been made regarding his resignation.

Mr. Lewis' departure from Air Jamaica could have an immediate
impact on the airline's operations as the carrier had relied on
his expertise in planning a most difficult area of the business.

CONTACT:  AIR JAMAICA
          Corporate Communications
          Tel: 876-922-3460 ext 4060-5
          URL: www.airjamaica.com


KAISER ALUMINUM: Announces Details of New Credit Facility
---------------------------------------------------------
As previously reported, Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (the
"Company") and its wholly owned subsidiary, Kaiser Aluminum &
Chemical Corporation ("KACC"), signed a commitment letter and
filed a motion with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Delaware (the "Court") seeking approval to enter
into a new financing agreement (the "New Facility").

The New Facility, which was approved by the Court, closed on
February 11, 2005. The New Facility provides for a secured,
revolving line of credit through the earlier of February 11,
2006, the effective date of a plan of reorganization or
voluntary termination by the Company. Under the New Facility,
the Company, KACC and certain subsidiaries of KACC are able to
borrow amounts by means of revolving credit advances and to have
issued letters of credit (up to $60.0 million) in an aggregate
amount equal to the lesser of $200.0 million or a borrowing base
comprised of eligible accounts receivable, eligible inventory
and certain eligible machinery, equipment and real estate,
reduced by certain reserves, as defined in the New Facility
agreement. The amount available under the New Facility shall be
reduced by $20.0 million if net borrowing availability falls
below $40.0 million.

The New Facility is secured by substantially all of the assets
of the Company, KACC and KACC's subsidiaries other than certain
amounts related to four commodity-related subsidiaries (Alpart
Jamaica Inc., Kaiser Jamaica Corporation, Kaiser Alumina
Australia Corporation and Kaiser Finance Corporation) whose
assets are, subject to approval by the Court of certain
liquidating plans of reorganization further described below,
expected to be distributed to the creditors of those
subsidiaries. KACC and all of KACC's material domestic
subsidiaries, other than the four commodity-related subsidiaries
mentioned above, are guarantors of the New Facility.

Amounts owed under the New Facility may be accelerated under
various circumstances more fully described in the New Facility
agreement, including but not limited to, the failure to make
principal or interest payments due under the New Facility,
breaches of certain covenants, representations and warranties
set forth in the New Facility agreement, and certain events
having a material adverse effect on the business, assets,
operations or condition of the Company taken as a whole.

The New Facility also places restrictions on the Company's,
KACC's and KACC's subsidiaries' ability to, among other things,
incur debt, create liens, make investments, pay dividends, sell
assets, undertake transactions with affiliates, and enter into
unrelated lines of business.

Interest on any outstanding borrowings will bear a spread over
either a base rate or LIBOR, at KACC's option.

Other Events

On November 1, 2004, the Company announced that two of its
subsidiaries (Alpart Jamaica Corporation and Kaiser Jamaica
Corporation - "AJI/KJC") had filed a joint plan of liquidation
and a disclosure statement with the Court. On November 16, 2004,
the Company announced that two additional subsidiaries (Kaiser
Alumina Australia Corporation and Kaiser Finance Corporation -
"KAAC/KFC") had filed a joint plan of liquidation and a
disclosure statement with the Court. Information in respect of
the AJI/KJC and KAAC/KFC joint plans of liquidation and
disclosure statements is included in the Company's Current
Reports on Form 8-K dated as of October 28, 2004 and November
15, 2004, respectively.

On February 11, 2005, each of AJI/KJC and KAAC/KFC filed amended
joint plans of liquidation and amended disclosure statements
with the Court. Copies of the amended joint plans of liquidation
and amended disclosure statements are attached hereto as
Exhibits 99.3, 99.4, 99.5 and 99.6 and are incorporated herein
by reference.

Bankruptcy law does not permit solicitation of acceptances of
the amended plans until the Court approves the applicable
amended disclosure statements relating to the amended plans.
Accordingly, this announcement is not intended to be, nor should
it be construed as, a solicitation for a vote on the amended
plans. The amended plans will become effective if and when they
receive the requisite stakeholder approval and are confirmed by
the Court. The Company refers to the limitations and
qualifications included in the amended disclosure statements. In
addition, the Company notes that all information contained in
the amended disclosure statements is subject to change, whether
as a result of amendments to the amended plans, as a result of
the actions of third parties or otherwise.

CONTACT: Kaiser Aluminum Corp.
         5847 San Felipe
         Suite 2500
         P.O. Box 572887
         Houston, TX 77257-2887
         USA
         Phone: 713-267-3777

         Website: http://www.kaiseral.com



===========
M E X I C O
===========

BALLY TOTAL: Accounting Irregularities Investigation Begins
-----------------------------------------------------------
Bally Total Fitness (NYSE: BFT) announced Wednesday that
following its recent disclosure of the results of its Audit
Committee investigation, the Company received a request for
information from the United States Attorney for the District of
Columbia in connection with a criminal investigation being
conducted by that office. Bally is fully cooperating with the
investigation.

As announced last week, the Audit Committee's investigation
found multiple accounting errors in the Company's financial
statements and concluded that four former finance executives,
including the Company's former Chief Executive Officer and
former Chief Financial Officer, engaged in improper conduct. As
a result, Bally announced that it would make no further payments
to its former CEO and former CFO under their severance
arrangements and the Company terminated its Controller and its
Treasurer.

Separately, Bally also announced that it has received a
shareholder demand that it bring actions or seek other remedies
against parties potentially responsible for the Company's
accounting errors. The Board of Directors is currently
evaluating the request.

About Bally Total Fitness

Bally Total Fitness is the largest and only nationwide
commercial operator of fitness centers, with approximately four
million members and nearly 440 facilities located in 29 states,
Mexico, Canada, Korea, China and the Caribbean under the Bally
Total Fitness(R), Crunch Fitness(SM), Gorilla Sports(SM),
Pinnacle Fitness(R), Bally Sports Clubs(R) and Sports Clubs of
Canada(R) brands. With an estimated 150 million annual visits to
its clubs, Bally is dedicated to improving the lives of active,
fitness-conscious consumers and being the leader in providing
health and fitness services and products.

CONTACT: Bally Total Fitness
         Mr. Jon Harris
         Phone: 773-864-6850
         Web site: http://www.BallyFitness.com/
                   or
         MWW Group
         Ms. Carreen Winters
         Phone: 201-507-9500
         Web site: cwinters@mww.com


GRUPO ELEKTRA: Net Income Up 60% in 2004
----------------------------------------
HIGHLIGHTS

- Grupo Elektra's consolidated EBITDA reached Ps. 1.3 billion in
4Q04, a 21.4% YoY increase from Ps. 1.0 billion in 4Q03, and a
record for a fourth quarter. For 2004, EBITDA was Ps. 4.1
billion, a 13.1% YoY increase from Ps. 3.6 billion in 2003.

- Consolidated revenues increased 23.4% YoY from Ps. 6.5 billion
in 4Q03 to Ps. 8.0 billion in 4Q04 and 20.5% YoY from Ps. 21.8
billion in 2003 to Ps. 26.3 billion in 2004, due to a good
performance of our store formats, an outstanding turnaround of
our operations in Latin America, better-than-expected
performance of our bank operations, and very encouraging results
from our two newest businesses: Afore Azteca and Seguros Azteca.

- Merchandise sales for 4Q04 rose 7.4% YoY to Ps. 5.2 billion
from Ps. 4.8 billion in 4Q03. For 2004, merchandise sales
increased 10.6% YoY, from Ps. 15.9 billion to Ps. 17.7 billion.
In both cases, these increases result from our new, remodeled
and relocated stores; new products and services offered in our
stores; our effective and competitive promotional strategies
implemented during the holiday season and throughout the year;
and longer credit payment terms, amongst other.

- Banco Azteca's customer deposits grew 12.9% QoQ to Ps. 17.4
billion from Ps. 15.4 billion in 3Q04. Our deposits continue to
fully fund our gross credit portfolio of Ps. 11.3 billion in
4Q04, which was up 19.4% QoQ from Ps. 9.5 billion in 3Q04.

- On October 20, Grupo Elektra together with Banco Azteca
launched the Empresario Azteca program and the Asociacion del
Empresario Azteca to finance and assist potential entrepreneurs
in starting up or expanding small businesses.

Grupo Elektra S.A. de C.V. (BMV: ELEKTRA*; NYSE: EKT; Latibex:
XEKT), Latin America's leading specialty retailer, consumer
finance and banking and financial services Company, reported its
financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2004.

Javier Sarro, CEO of Grupo Elektra said, "Congratulations go to
all of our talented employees from both our retail and financial
divisions for delivering double-digit revenue and EBITDA growth
for the year and for an excellent job in meeting our customers'
needs. Our store improvements and expansions throughout all our
formats with added goods and services are a sound foundation for
growth in 2005. We are bullish on 2005 as we continue to deliver
valued-added merchandise and financial products and services to
the vast majority of the population in Mexico and other Latin
American countries where we operate."

"We have a lot to celebrate in our second anniversary," said
Carlos Septi‚n, CEO of Banco Azteca. "It has been two years of
intense effort that has yielded concrete results. Not only have
we greatly expanded our product offering, but also our customer
base and the number of bank branches to serve them. We send our
warmest thanks to all of our employees that are making the dream
of bringing quality services to a once "unbankable" segment of
the population. We look forward to repeating this success in
2005." Mr. Septi‚n concluded.

Rodrigo Pliego, Grupo Elektra's Chief Financial Officer,
commented "Our results during the past year clearly demonstrate
our efforts to improve profitability. Early on 2004, we took a
major step in calling our Senior Notes issued in US dollars and
refinancing them with peso debt. The savings in financial
expenses is clear, as are the results of our store expansion
program. For 2005, we will continue improving our operating
leverage, and expect the results to be evident in our EBITDA for
the year."

4Q04 AND 2004 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Consolidated Revenues

Total consolidated revenues increased 23.4% YoY from Ps. 6.5
billion in 4Q03 to Ps. 8.0 billion in 4Q04, the highest level
reached in a fourth quarter. This result is explained by a solid
74.4% increase YoY in financial revenues from Banco Azteca, from
Ps. 1.2 billion in 4Q03 to Ps. 2.1 billion in 4Q04; continued
growth of merchandise sales, which increased 7.4% YoY from Ps.
4.8 billion in 4Q03 to Ps. 5.2 billion in 4Q04; and a 12.6% YoY
growth in money transfer revenues from Ps. 210.1 million in 4Q03
to Ps. 236.6 million in 4Q04.

Merchandise sales growth was consistent across Elektra and
Bodega de Remates formats, with YoY increases of 9.5% and 2.0%,
respectively; and a 6.8% decrease in the Salinas y Rocha format
due to stores closed over the year. Growth was buoyed by new,
relocated and remodeled stores; the addition of new merchandise
including motorcycles, scooters and mopeds; LCD, HDTV and plasma
televisions; and cellulars with PDA technology; as well as our
Empresario Azteca program. In addition, our newest store format
Elektricity is starting to show encouraging results. Finally, we
are also reaping the benefits of our continued aggressive
pricing and promotional strategies, and our door-to-door sales
initiative.

Increases in Banco Azteca's financial income are largely due to
greater credit availability and streamlined processing of credit
applications at our stores and other channels; higher limits on
personal loans; longer credit terms for our weekly payments
credit programs: and the success of our mobile sales force (
Comercializadora ) in attracting new customers.

Lastly, other income includes Milenia, our extended warranties
services; and revenues from Afore Azteca and Seguros Azteca. In
this revenue line, the 114.3% YoY increase is explained by very
encouraging results registered from our two newest business
units.

Consolidated Revenues

Total consolidated revenues for 2004 increased 20.5% YoY to Ps.
26.3 billion from Ps. 21.8 billion in 2003. Merchandise sales
for the year grew 10.6% to Ps. 17.7 billion from Ps. 16.0
billion in 2003 as revenue from our store formats Elektra,
Salinas y Rocha and Bodega de Remates grew YoY 11.7%, 1.8% and
7.6%, respectively. Revenues from Banco Azteca increased 111.6%
YoY to Ps. 6.9 billion from Ps. 3.3 billion in 2003. Money
transfer revenues grew 20.1% YoY, from Ps. 743.1 million in 2003
to Ps. 892.5 million in 2004. Lastly, other income revenues
decreased 55.0% YoY to Ps. 835.6 million from Ps. 1.9 billion in
2003. The decrease is due to the fact that at the end of 2003,
there was still a balance left from our credit operations
granted before October 30, 2002 , thus making the base of
comparison higher when compared to 2004.

EBITDA and Operating Profit

Consolidated EBITDA was a record for a fourth quarter as it
increased 21.4% YoY, from Ps. 1.1 billion in 4Q03 to Ps. 1.3
billion in 4Q04. EBITDA growth is largely attributable to
increased consolidated revenues and gross profit, despite a
15.3% increase YoY in selling, general and administrative
expenses. The increase in operating expenses was mainly a result
of the compensation based on contribution of our sales force,
collections personnel, cashiers, credit executives and all
employees with a direct interaction with clients, the
amortization of preoperative expenses during the quarter from
our two new businesses units, Afore Azteca and Seguros Azteca,
hiring and training of new employees for our new stores and
financial division business units, our door-to-door sales force
for retailing, the mobile sales force of the financial division,
and expenses associated with our store and bank branch expansion
program. This is reflected in the 15.6% YoY increase in
headcount, from 24,328 employees at the end of 4Q03 to 28,121
employees in 4Q04.

Operating income increased by 0.5% YoY as depreciation and
amortization expenses increased 92.3% YoY. This increase is
attributable to the growth in fixed assets in both the retail
and financial division due to our expansion, remodeling and
relocation plans.

EBITDA & Operating Profit

Consolidated EBITDA for 2004 was also a record high at Ps. 4.1
billion, 13.1% above the Ps. 3.6 billion of 2003.
Notwithstanding an increase in operating expenses of 24.8% YoY,
from Ps. 6.0 billion to Ps. 7.5 billion in 2004, operating
income grew 12.2% YoY to Ps. 2.9 billion from Ps. 2.6 billion in
2003. Depreciation and amortization expenses increased 16.0%
over the same period due to equipment purchased for our new and
remodeled or relocated stores and our new bank branches opened
YoY.

Net Income

Our solid operating performance, coupled with an 63.0% YoY
decrease in the comprehensive cost of financing, as well as a
Ps. 55.0 million gain from our equity participation in
Comunicaciones Avanzadas, led to record net income of Ps. 670.7
million in 4Q04, 56.8% higher than the Ps. 427.9 million net
income of 4Q03.

Consolidated record net profit for the full year was Ps. 1.9
billion, 59.5% YoY higher than the net profit reported in 2003
of Ps. 1.2 million. Our participation in Comunicaciones
Avanzadas resulted in a gain of Ps. 72.5 million in 2004.

Retail Division Highlights

During 2004, Grupo Elektra opened 100 new Elektra stores in
Mexico , 11 new Elektra stores in Latin America, and relocated
or remodeled another 53 Elektra stores in Mexico , Guatemala and
Honduras . Also through the year, we closed 12 Salinas y Rocha
stores and 5 Bodega de Remates stores that did not meet our
profitability standards.

In addition, during the quarter we operated 34 stores under our
new Elektricity store fromat, which targets a higher income
segment of the population than previously served by Grupo
Elektra by offering high-tech electronics and other brands not
currently offered in our other store formats.

Furthermore, our Latin American operations (Guatemala, Honduras
and Peru) continue showing excellent results. During the 4Q04,
revenues and gross profits in this region registered YoY
increases of 47.3% and 35.2%, respectively. For 2004, revenues
and gross profit grew by 47.8% and by 43.1% YoY, respectively.

Finally, during the fourth quarter, Grupo Elektra launched the
Empresario Azteca program and the Asociacion del Empresario
Azteca in conjunction with Banco Azteca to finance, assist and
help entrepreneurs who are looking to start up or to expand
small businesses. This program and its association aim to help
strengthen Mexico 's economic growth by nurturing small
businesses throughout the country. Empresario Azteca is
comprised of three pillars:

- The financing of working capital needs and equipment purchases
through Banco Azteca;

- The procurement capabilities and extensive store network of
Grupo Elektra; and

- The Asociacion del Empresario Azteca to provide support,
assistance and consulting to all its members.

Other highlights in the Retail Division include:

Dinero Express, our intra-Mexico electronic money transfer
business, continues with excellent results from its successful
marketing efforts. These are reflected in an increase in
revenues of 24.3% YoY to Ps. 109.3 million in the 4Q04 from Ps.
87.9 million in the 4Q03. Also during the quarter, we
transferred the equivalent of Ps. 1.6 billion through 1.4
billion transactions, representing YoY increases of 47.2% and
37.3%, respectively. For the year, revenues increased 29.6% to
Ps. 388.6 million from Ps. 299.8 million in 2003. This result
was led by increases in the amount transferred and number of
transactions of 43.5% and 35.1% YoY, respectively.

Revenues from our agency relationship with Western Union
increased 4.1% YoY to Ps. 127.3 million in the 4Q04 from Ps.
122.3 million in the 4Q03. Revenues were boosted by a 28.2%
growth in the number of transfers and by a 41.9% growth in the
amount transferred. We have further strengthened our
relationship with Western Union and now offer electronic money
transfer service from Mexico to the US and the rest of the
world. For the year, revenues increased 13.7% to Ps. 504.0
million from Ps. 443.3 million in 2003. During the same period,
the amount transferred and the number of transactions increased
by 42.1% and by 28.0%, respectively.

Banco Azteca

On October 30, 2004, Banco Azteca celebrated two years of
offering banking products and services to the vast majority of
the Mexican population, as well as outstanding results beyond
our expectations in many areas. The synergies created between
the retail and financial divisions have made Banco Azteca the
fastest growing bank in Mexico.

For 4Q04, Banco Azteca reported net income of Ps. 36.0 million,
67.6% lower than the net income of Ps. 111.0 million for 4Q03.
The 74.4% YoY increase in financial revenues was offset by
interest expense on deposits and funding, loan-loss provisions,
and operating expenses.

In addition, Banco Azteca launched " Comercializadora" or mobile
sales force that has the mandate to attract new customers and
companies for Banco Azteca and also provides services to Seguros
Azteca and Afore Azteca.

During 4Q04, Grupo Elektra made a Ps. 410.0 million infusion
into Banco Azteca, which shareholder's equity reached Ps.1,046.0
million. This is attributable to the excellent performance and
growth achieved by Banco Azteca, above expectations.

As of December 31, 2004, the estimated capitalization index of
Banco Azteca was 11.2%, compared to 10.9% on September 30, 2004
, and 11.3% on December 31, 2003 . All the figures exceed the
8.0% minimum capitalization index required by Mexican
regulators.

For 4Q04, the average funding cost of Banco Azteca was 3.8%, 30
basis points higher when compared to the average funding mix
registered in 3Q04, and 60 basis points above the cost reported
in 4Q03. The YoY increase in the funding cost is explained by
the 2.3 times growth of deposits in Inversion Azteca from Ps.
5.0 billion in 2003 to Ps. 11.8 billion in 2004.

Credimax Consumo (Consumer Loans) and Credimax Efectivo
(Personal Cash Loans) Combined Credit Portfolio.

As of December 31, 2004, Credimax Consumo and Credimax Efectivo
continued to be our two main financing products as they
accounted for 72.3% of our total gross loan portfolio. During
the quarter we launched the student loan product for
undergraduate studies at the Universidad ICEL (Credimax
Estudiantil) and Credimax Empresario Azteca in connection with
the launching of Empresario Azteca. Going forward, we will
continue pilot-testing different credit products and cautiously
analyzing the risks associated with them in our efforts to
continue expanding our array of credit products for our
customers.

At the end of 4Q04, we had a total of 4.1 million active
accounts, representing a 13.9% QoQ increase from the 3.6 million
accounts in 3Q04 and a 36.7% YoY increase over the same period
of last year. The gross loan portfolio increased 19.4% QoQ,
reaching Ps. 11.3 billion from Ps. 9.5 billion at the end of
3Q04. Our gross credit portfolio grew 100.9% YoY from Ps. 5.6
billion in 4Q03. The average term of the combined credit
portfolio at the end of the 4Q04, was 54 weeks, representing an
increase of 3 weeks when compared to 4Q03 and flat when compared
to 3Q04. Personal loans represented 16.4% of the gross credit
portfolio at the end of 4Q04, showing 70 basis points decrease
when compared to 17.1% at the end of 3Q04. The collection rate
of Banco Azteca continues at the same excellent historic level
that defines Grupo Elektra's standard, about 98% as of December
31, 2004.

Guardadito (Savings Accounts) and Inversion Azteca (Term
Deposits).

Net deposits increased 12.9% QoQ, from Ps. 15.4 billion in 3Q04
to Ps. 17.4 billion in 4Q04, and they increased 100.2% YoY the
net deposits of 4Q03. Over the quarter, the total number of
accounts rose by approximately 600,000 to 5.6 million.

Afore Azteca

For 4Q04, Afore Azteca reported a net loss of Ps. 24.2 million
from a net income of Ps. 3.2 million for 4Q03. YoY, net income
for 2004 increased to Ps. 11.0 million from a net loss of Ps.
10.0 million registered in 2003. This result is mainly
attributable to the amortization of Ps. 29.0 million of
preoperating expenses during the quarter. On a proforma basis,
excluding the amortization of these expenses, Afore Azteca would
have registered a net income of Ps. 5.0 million during 4Q04, and
Ps. 40.0 million during 2004

As of December 31, 2004, Siefore Azteca reached Ps. 2.7 billion
in net assets under management, a 31.9% increase over the
previous quarter, and yielded a 7.65% return in the 4Q04, 71
basis points above the average rate of the industry of 6.94% and
41 basis points above the previous quarter.

The number of affiliates reached 79,500 and the number of
assignees was 743,000, both as of December 31, 2004. YoY, the
affiliate base increased 84.3% mainly because of transfers among
the Afore system in Mexico and by the CONSAR (National
Commission of the Retirement Fund System) that took place during
the year. These new affiliates were distributed among the three
Afores of the system that charge the lowest commissions.

New regulation in the Afore business related to the affiliate
base was approved at the end of 2004. Starting 2005, an
affiliate can move to a cheaper Afore at any time he or she
wants but if he or she wants to move to a more expensive one, he
or she has to wait at least one year as it was restricted for
everybody in the former law. This new criteria applies for both
workers assigned by Banco de Mexico and transfers among the
Afore system. Afore Aztea is ranked as the second most
affordable Afore in the system and both, this new law and our "
Comercializadora" mobile-sale force initiative, will enhance the
opportunity to increase our affiliate base.

Seguros Azteca

During the fourth quarter, Seguros Azteca showed a strong
performance, as about 75% of customers acquired term life
insurance along with either a consumer or personal loan from
Banco Azteca. As a result of this success, we increased the
weekly premiums up to Ps. 15 and Ps. 20 to acquire a Vidamax
life insurance policy, thus increasing the benefit for customers
in case of natural or accidental death. Finally, also during the
quarter, Seguros Azteca started to pilot-test its Vidamax life
insurance policy on financed purchases of mobile phone products
sold at our stores.

For 4Q04, Seguros Azteca recorded positive net income for the
third quarter in a row, with Ps. 4.5 million, reaching Ps. 9.0
million for 2004. Net income for 4Q04 was 52.2% lower than the
Ps. 6.8 million from the previous quarter. This is largely
attributable to the amortization of Ps. 28.0 million of
preoperating expenses during the quarter. On a proforma basis,
excluding the amortization of these expenses, Seguros Azteca
would have registered a net income of Ps. 32.5 million during
4Q04, and Ps. 36.0 million for 2004.

Seguros Azteca will continue pilot testing other insurance
products in line with the products and services offered by Banco
Azteca.

Financial Condition (Consolidated Balance Sheet)

To continue maintaining clarity in regards to our consolidated
balance sheet, in the following we discuss certain items
included on a separated basis.

Total cash and cash equivalents rose to Ps. 13.4 billion in 4Q04
from Ps. 7.5 billion in 4Q03, comprised of Ps. 4.6 billion from
the retail division and Ps. 8.8 billion from Banco Azteca. The
retail division cash and equivalents registered an increase of
10.0% YoY when compared to 4Q03. Cash and equivalents from the
Financial Division increased 160% or by Ps. 5.4 billion over the
same period a year ago.

Banco Azteca's gross credit portfolio increased 100.9% YoY to
Ps. 11.3 billion in 4Q04 from Ps. 5.6 billion at the end of
4Q03. The retail division's customer accounts receivables, now
comprised only from our credit operations in Latin America, is
starting to show encouraging results as they increased 36.8% YoY
to Ps. 568.4 million in 4Q04 from Ps. 415.5 million in 4Q03.

At the end of 4Q04, total debt with cost at the retail division
was Ps. 3.7 billion, 7.9% lower when compared to Ps. 4.0 billion
at the end of 4Q03, and 4.2% lower when compared to Ps. 3.9
billion of 3Q04. Net debt at the retail division decreased YoY,
from negative Ps. 138.1 million in 4Q03 to negative Ps. 868.9
million in 4Q04.

For 4Q04, total net deposits for Banco Azteca increased 12.9%
QoQ to Ps. 17.4 billion from Ps. 15.4 billion at the end of
3Q04. Year-over-year, deposits increased 100.2% from Ps. 8.7
billion in 4Q03.

Consolidated equity grew 31.4% YoY, from Ps. 6.4 billion in 4Q03
to Ps. 8.4 billion in 4Q04, largely as a result of the 55.0% YoY
increase in net income.

CONTACT: Grupo Elektra S.A. de C.V.
         Colonia Tlalpan La Joya
         D.F. 1400
         Mexico
         Phone: 525-629-9000

         Website: http://www.grupoelektra.com.mx


ISSSTE: $11.63B Loss Likely Without Pension Reforms
---------------------------------------------------
Mexico's Social Security and Services Institute for State
Workers (ISSSTE) sinks deeper into debt the longer much needed
system reforms remain pending.

ISSSTE Director Benjamin Gonzalez Roaro said in an El Economista
interview that the agency stands to lose US$11.63 billion
annually if new legislation amending the state's pension payment
scheme is not passed.

ISSTE has debts totaling US$125 billion and the agency estimates
current deficit at around US$3.85 billion. Meanwhile, workers
contribute only US$895 million to the fund resulting in a
US$2.95 billion balance that the government has to pay.

Political maneuverings have been blamed on the slow progress of
the reforms. To aid their cause, the ISSTE has launched an
information campaign on their Web site.


RUBBERMAID DE MEXICO: DoveBid to Conduct Webcast Auction
--------------------------------------------------------
DoveBid(R) Mexico, S.A. de C.V., a global provider of capital
asset auction and valuation services, will conduct a Webcast
auction by order of Rubbermaid de Mexico S.A. de C.V. of the
complete liquidation of a major plastics manufacturing facility.

This auction will feature Plastic Injection Molding Machines,
Blow, Rotational & Foam Molding Machines, Extruders, Toolroom &
Material Handling Equipment, and more.

The Webcast auction will be conducted live over the Internet at
DoveBid's Website on February 23, 2005 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Central Time in Tultitlan, Estado de Mexico, Mexico. Featured
items include (30) Plastic Injection Molding Machines From 220-
on to 2000-Ton, Blow, Rotational & Foam Molding Machines,
Toolroom & Material Handling Equipment, and more. A preview of
assets will take place from February 21 to 22, 2005 from 9:00
a.m. to 4:00 p.m. local time each day and morning of the sale at
Parque Industrial Cartagena in Tultitlan Estado de Mexico,
Mexico.

Participants may attend in-person or bid online. Detailed
preview information, asset catalog, and online bidding
instructions are available at www.dovebid.com.

For a complete list of our upcoming auctions, equipment asset
catalogs, and brochures, go to DoveBid's Website at
www.dovebid.com.


SATMEX: CEO Leaves Post
-----------------------
Lauro Gonzalez quit his post as chief executive of debt-ridden
Mexican satellite Satelites Mexicanos SA (Satmex), Reuters
reports, citing a Company source.

Gonzalez resigned in a mutual agreement with the Company reached
at a board meeting Monday in which the Company's situation was
being considered.

Satmex, which is 49%-owned by Loral Space & Communications Ltd.,
has defaulted on US$713 million of debt over the past two years
and has yet to renegotiate debt terms with several creditors.

Satmex said in a press release it called on Chairman Sergio
Autrey, as interim chief executive, to continue "an open and
permanent dialogue with creditors, customers and shareholders to
maintain healthy operations."

Last month a top government official said a restructuring deal
could be reached during the first quarter of 2005.

The government holds a 25% stake in Satmex.


TV AZTECA: Reports 46% EBITDA Margin in 4Q04
--------------------------------------------
TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE: TZA; BMV: TVAZTCA, Latibex:
XTZA), one of the two largest producers of Spanish language
television programming in the world, announced Wednesday fourth
quarter net sales up 1% to a record level of Ps.2,431 million
(US$216 million), and EBITDA of Ps.1,115 million (US$99
million), a 9% decrease over the prior year period. EBITDA
margin for the quarter was 46%.

Net sales for the full year were Ps.8,320 million (US$739
million) and EBITDA was Ps.3,665 million (US$325 million),
increases of 9% and 3%, respectively, compared with 2003. Full
year net sales and EBITDA recorded their highest levels ever.

"Our 2004 results mark the sixth year of continued expansion in
revenue and EBITDA, and the fourth consecutive year scoring all
time sales records," said Mario San Roman, Chief Executive
Officer of TV Azteca. "Our numbers reflect the continued
development of dynamic drivers of growth, while focusing on
solid profitability."

"During the year we made further progress on our cash-usage
plan, with distributions to shareholders of US$185 million,
while advancing on our total debt reduction strategy," added Mr.
San Roman. "In line with the cash plan, our board approved
another US$80 million to be distributed to shareholders in
2005."

As previously detailed, the Company's plan for uses of cash
entails distributions of over US$500 million and reductions in
TV Azteca's debt by approximately US$250 million within a six-
year period that started in 2003.

Fourth Quarter Results

Net sales grew 1% to a record high of Ps.2,431 million (US$216
million), up from Ps.2,416 million (US$214 million) for the same
quarter of 2003. Total costs and expenses rose 10% to Ps.1,316
million (US$117 million), from Ps.1,191 million (US$106 million)
for the same period of last year. As a result, the Company
reported EBITDA of Ps.1,115 million (US$99 million), 9% below
Ps.1,225 million (US$109 million) in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Net income was Ps.480 million (US$43 million), compared with net
income of Ps.626 million (US$56 million) for the same period of
2003.

Net Sales

Net sales in the quarter, while higher, were affected by a
decline in soccer revenues. In the three-month period, soccer
teams for which TV Azteca has exhibition rights did not qualify
for finals or semi-finals of the Opening Season of the Mexican
Soccer League. On a proforma basis, excluding revenue associated
with the transmission of the Opening Season during the fourth
quarter of 2003 of Ps.61 million (US$5 million), net sales
increased 3%.

"We overcame reduced soccer revenues by offering creative
advertising solutions in appealing alternative programming in
Mexico and the United States," added Mr. San Roman. "Ad demand
targeting US Hispanics was particularly dynamic, within the
framework of growing geographical coverage and compelling sales
strategies."

Fourth quarter revenue includes sales from Azteca America-the
Company's wholly-owned broadcasting network focused on the US
Hispanic market-of Ps.144 million (US$13 million), an 80%
increase from Ps.80 million (US$7 million) for the same period a
year ago. Azteca America revenue this quarter was composed of
Ps.74 million (US$7 million) in sales from the Los Angeles
station KAZA-TV, and Ps.70 million (US$6 million) from network
sales.

As of December 31, 2004, Azteca America Network had over-the-air
coverage in 38 markets in the United States that account for
approximately 78% of the US Hispanic households. Over-the-air
coverage, together with cable and DirecTV carriage translated
into a 56% Nielsen coverage of US Hispanic households at year-
end 2004, 12 percentage points above 44% at December 31, 2003.
Nielsen coverage as of January 31, 2005 rose to 58%.

TV Azteca also reported sales of programming to other countries
of Ps.17 million (US$1 million), compared with Ps.24 million
(US$2 million) in the same period a year ago. This quarter's
programming exports were primarily driven by the Company's
novelas Cuando Seas Mia, sold in Europe, as well as La Hija del
Jardinero, which was sold mostly in Latin American markets.

TV Azteca reported Ps.35 million (US$3 million) in advertising
sales to Unefon, constant from Ps.35 million (US$3 million) in
the fourth quarter of 2003. In accordance with the terms of the
advertising agreement between Unefon and TV Azteca, during the
fourth quarter Unefon paid to TV Azteca in cash the Ps.34
million (US$3 million) of advertising purchases placed within
the prior three-month period. Additionally, Unefon paid TV
Azteca Ps.54 million (US$5 million), which correspond to the
last of four semiannual installments of deferred payments for
television advertising made prior to 2003.

During the fourth quarter of 2004, content and advertising sales
to Todito.com were Ps.59 million (US$5 million), compared with
Ps.57 million (US$5 million) in the same period of the prior
year.

Barter sales were Ps.116 million (US$10 million), compared with
Ps.148 million (US$13 million) in the same period of last year.
Inflation adjustment of advertising advances was Ps.89 million
(US$8 million), compared with Ps.47 million (US$4 million) for
the fourth quarter of 2003.

Costs and Expenses

The 10% increase in fourth quarter costs and expenses resulted
from the combined effect of an 8% rise in programming,
production and transmission costs to Ps.979 million (US$87
million), from Ps.903 million (US$80 million) in the prior year
period, and a 17% increase in administration and selling expense
to Ps.337 million (US$30 million), from Ps.288 million (US$26
million) in the same quarter a year ago.

"Azteca America's top line growth was associated with
supplementary content generated to tap greater US Hispanic
audiences, resulting in a rise in the Company's production
costs," said Carlos Hesles, Chief Financial Officer of TV
Azteca. "Azteca America has become a consistent source for
consolidated top line expansion, and we expect substantial
profitability rewards in the future."

As a result of increased production efforts this quarter, TV
Azteca's in-house produced content rose to 2,208 hours in the
three month period from 2,113 hours a year ago.

The 17% growth in administration and selling expense primarily
reflects Ps.45 million (US$4 million) of advisory fees related
to compliance with US securities laws.

TV Azteca also recorded expenses connected with the Company's
operations of the Los Angeles station KAZA-TV, in line with the
increasing dimensions of the business.

EBITDA and Net Income

The 1% increase in fourth quarter net sales, combined with the
10% growth in costs and expenses, resulted in EBITDA of Ps.1,115
million (US$99 million), compared with Ps.1,225 million (US$109
million) a year ago. The EBITDA margin was 46%, compared with
51% in the same period of 2003.

Below EBITDA, fourth quarter results were influenced by a
decrease in depreciation and amortization to Ps.94 million (US$8
million) from Ps.117 million (US$10 million) a year ago. The
change is primarily due to a Ps.25 million (US$2 million)
decline in depreciation mainly reflecting revaluations in
depreciation indexes in the fourth quarter of 2003.

The Company recorded other expense of Ps.251 million (US$22
million), compared with Ps.133 million (US$12 million) a year
ago. Other expense for the quarter was primarily composed of the
recognition of the results from Monarcas-TV Azteca's soccer
team-in the Company's financial statements of Ps.80 million
(US$7 million), legal fees of Ps.56 million (US$5 million),
charitable donations of Ps.46 million (US$4 million), the
recognition of 50% of the net loss of Todito of Ps.25 million
(US$2 million), the write-off of obsolete equipment of Ps.23
million (US$2 million), and cancellations and other of Ps.21
million (US$2 million).

Net comprehensive financing cost during the quarter was Ps.215
million (US$19 million) compared with Ps.250 million (US$22
million) a year ago. The decline was primarily influenced by an
Ps.18 million (US$2 million) foreign exchange gain, compared
with a Ps.57 million (US$5 million) exchange loss in the prior
year's period. The exchange
gain results from the combination of a 1% peso appreciation
during the quarter and the prepayment on December 23 of the
Company's US$300 million 10 «% notes due 2007, using peso
denominated debt. Net comprehensive financing cost was also
influenced by other financing expense of Ps.57 million (US$5
million) compared with Ps.10 million
(US$1 million) in the fourth quarter of 2003. The change
primarily results from pending amortizations of Ps.49 million
(US$4 million) in underwriting fees from the previously
mentioned US$300 million notes due 2007.

Provision for income tax was Ps.75 million (US$7 million),
compared with Ps.98 million (US$9 million) in the same period of
the prior year, reflecting a lower taxable base this quarter.

Net income for the period was Ps.480 million (US$43 million),
compared with Ps.626 million (US$56 million) for the same
quarter of 2003.

Advertising Advances

The balance of advertising advances as of December 31, 2003 -
excluding advance sales from Unefon and Todito-was Ps.5,041
million (US$448 million) compared with Ps.5,158 million (US$458
million) at the end of the prior year.

Later industry dates for the 2005 presale campaign delayed the
closing of a number of advance contracts at TV Azteca.
Considering advertising advances that were signed during the
month of January of this year, ad advances for 2005 were
approximately 7% above the prior year's balance.

Uses of Cash

The Company generated free cash flow in the full year-before
debt payment and distributions to shareholders-of approximately
Ps.1,830 million (US$162 million), which surpassed its US$150
million stated goal for 2004.

Adhering to the timetable of the Company's plan for uses of
cash, TV Azteca made cash distributions to shareholders of
US$185 million during 2004. The distributions under the cash
usage-plan made to date, represent an aggregate amount of US$325
million, equivalent to a 19% yield on the February 15, 2005 ADR
closing price.

Distributions to shareholders have included payments of US$125
million made on June 30, 2003, US$15 million on December 5,
2003, US$33 million on May 13, 2004, US$22 million on November
11, 2004, and US$130 million on December 14, 2004. As previously
detailed, the Company's board of directors unanimously approved
additional cash distributions of US$80 million to be made during
2005.

Under the cash plan, TV Azteca has also reduced its total debt
by US$53 million, on a nominal US dollar basis, since June 2003.
Additionally on December 23 the Company prepaid all of its
US$300 million 10 «% note due 2007, with resources coming from
an issuance in Mexico of Structured Securities Certificates and
from a credit facility denominated in pesos with Banco Inbursa,
S.A.

The new peso facilities substantially reduce the overall foreign
exchange risk on the Company's debt, provide for longer
maturities compared with the notes, and have gradual
amortizations, consistent with TV Azteca's debt reduction
strategy.

Debt Outstanding

As of December 31, 2004, the Company's total outstanding debt
was Ps.6,216 million (US$553 million). TV Azteca's cash balance
was Ps.752 million (US$67 million), resulting in net debt of
Ps.5,464 million (US$486 million). The total debt to last twelve
months (LTM) EBITDA ratio was 1.7 times, and net debt to EBITDA
was 1.5 times. LTM EBITDA to net interest expense ratio was 6.1
times.

The Company noted that excluding-for analytical purposes-
Ps.1,349 million(US$120 million) debt due 2069, total debt was
Ps.4,867 million (US$432 million), and total debt to EBITDA
ratio was 1.3 times.

Twelve-Month Results

For the full year 2004, net sales were Ps.8,320 million (US$739
million), a 9% increase over last year's Ps.7,659 (US$680
million). EBITDA was Ps.3,665 (US$325 million), up 3% from
Ps.3,551 million (US$315 million) in 2003. EBITDA margin for
2004 was 44%, compared with 46% a year ago. Net earnings were
Ps.1,544 (US$137 million), compared with Ps.1,658 million
(US$147 million) in the prior year.

Company Profile

TV Azteca is one of the two largest producers of Spanish
language television programming in the world, operating two
national television networks in Mexico, Azteca 13 and Azteca 7,
through more than 300 owned and operated stations across the
country. TV Azteca affiliates include Azteca America Network, a
new broadcast television network focused on the rapidly growing
US Hispanic market, and Todito.com, an Internet portal for North
American Spanish speakers.

CONTACT: Investor Relations:
         Mr. Bruno Rangel
         Phone: 5255 1720 9167
         E-mail: jrangelk@tvazteca.com.mx

         Mr. Omar Avila
         Phone: 5255 1720 0041
         E-mail: oavila@tvazteca.com.mx

         Media Relations:
         Mr. Tristan Canales
         Phone: 5255 1720 5786
         E-mail: tcanales@tvazteca.com.mx

         Mr. Daniel McCosh
         Phone: 5255 1720 0059
         E-mail: dmccosh@tvazteca.com.mx



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P E R U
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MINERA VOLCAN: 4Q04 Net Income Drops on Higher Tax Payments
-----------------------------------------------------------
Zinc-lead miner Volcan Compania Minera SAA saw its net income in
the fourth quarter of 2004 dropped to PEN4.5 million from
PEN17.5 million in the same period in the previous year.

In a filing to the Peruvian securities regulatory agency Conasev
Monday, the Company said lower net income was due to higher tax
payments during the period.

Total revenues in the fourth quarter were higher at PEN139.9
million compared with PEN125.9 million in the same quarter of
2003.

For the full year 2004, Volcan reported a much stronger net
income of PEN71.3 million compared with a loss of PEN25.2
million in the previous year.

Total 12-month revenues were PEN620.6 million, compared with
PEN458.9 million in 2003.

"Growth in sales figures can be fundamentally explained by a
notable increase in the international prices for metals and by
an improvement in our production volumes," the Company said in a
statement.

The Company also revealed it had obtained a US$20 million loan
in December last year from Natexis Banques Populaires, although
so far only US$10 million had been disbursed and has been used
to substitute debt.

Volcan is dedicated to the exploration and exploitation of
mining concessions, and the related extraction, concentration,
treatment and commercialization of polymetalic minerals. Its
mining operations are located in the central Andean departments
of Junin and Pasco.

CONTACT:  Volcan Compania Minera S.A.A.
          Av Gregorio Escobedo 710 Jesus Maria
          Lima, Peru
          Phone: (51-1) 219-4000
          Fax: (51-1)261-9716
          E-mail: contact@volcan.com.pe



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V E N E Z U E L A
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CANTV: Indecu Questions Implementation of Voice Mail Services
-------------------------------------------------------------
Dominant fixed-line operator CANTV (NYSE: VNT) will meet with
the national consumer association Indecu on Feb. 23 to discuss
matters involving allegations that the Company is implementing
voice mail services without users' authorization, reports
Business News Americas.

Indecu plans to start an investigation into complaints that
CANTV, without the users' authorization, is implementing the
voice mail service, which allows it to bill for additional call
time since the line can still be active even if no one answers.

Under the law, all residential service providers must provide
customers a written statement informing them of service
conditions, their rights and the obligations required of both
parties.


CANTV: Purchases 3G Communications Equipment From Axesstel
----------------------------------------------------------
Axesstel, Inc. (AMEX:AFT), a designer, developer and marketer of
high-quality, CDMA-based fixed wireless voice and data products
for the worldwide telecommunications market, announced Wednesday
that Axesstel has received its first purchase order for its
advanced third-generation (3G) AXW-D800 CDMA2000 1xEV-DO modems
from Telecommunicaciones Movilnet C.A. (Movilnet), the wireless
division of Venezuela's largest telecommunications operator
Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (Cantv)
(NYSE:VNT), which is also an affiliate of a leading U.S.
communication services provider. Axesstel began shipping these
products to Movilnet at the end of January 2005.

"We are delighted to announce our first purchase order and roll
out for our advanced 1xEV-DO modems," said Mike Kwon, Chairman
and CEO for Axesstel. "Axesstel remains dedicated to providing
innovative, quality and cost-effective product lines that can
help our customers in their quest to maximize scalable revenue
opportunities and deliver on their long-term business
strategies."

"We believe that the growing relationship between Movilnet and
Axesstel will provide important benefits for our growing
subscriber base," said Jose Maria de Viana, president for
Movilnet. "With the launching of 1xEV-DO modems, the operator
becomes the first telecommunications Company in Venezuela to
implement this technology, the second in Latin America and the
third in the continent."

Axesstel's CDMA2000 1xEV-DO modems will enable Movilnet to offer
its customers a range of advanced data services by taking
advantage of the latest CDMA technologies. Axesstel's next-
generation CDMA2000 1xEV-DO fixed wireless modems are designed
to provide users with a high-speed data connection at peak data
rates of up to 2.4 Mbps. A built-in convenient network adapter
and a USB port provide convenient connection to other network
devices such as a Wi-Fi access point and a multi-port router for
multi-users and the modems offer real "plug and play" set-up
simplicity by eliminating the need for drivers.

About Axesstel, Inc.

Axesstel designs, develops and markets fixed wireless voice and
data products for the worldwide telecommunications market.
Axesstel's products are based on Code Division Multiple Access,
or CDMA, technology, and include CDMA2000 and emerging third-
generation, or 3G, broadband data technologies, which are newer
versions of the CDMA standard. Axesstel's product lines include
fixed wireless desktop phone terminals, payphone terminals,
voice/data terminals and broadband modems used for high-speed
data services. Axesstel is headquartered in San Diego,
California, with a research and development center in Seoul,
South Korea.

About Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela

Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (Cantv), a
Venezuelan corporation, is the leading Venezuelan
telecommunications services provider with approximately 2.9
million access lines in service, more than 2.7 million cellular
subscribers and more than 325,000 Internet subscribers as of
September 30, 2004. Movilnet is the wireless division of Cantv.

Cantv's principal strategic shareholder is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. with 28.5% of the
capital stock. Other major shareholders include the Venezuelan
Government with 6.6% of the capital stock (Class B Shares), and
employees, retirees and employee trusts which own 7.4% (Class C
Shares). The remaining 57.5% of the capital stock is held by
shareholders of Venezuela and the world.

CONTACT: Axesstel, Inc.
         Ms. Alireza Saifi
         Vice President of Finance
         Phone: +1 858-625-2100
                 or
         Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela
         Mr. Bernardo Fischer
         Corporative Manager of External Communications
         Phone: +58 212-500-7177


PDVSA: Negotiates Joint Venture Agreement With Shell
----------------------------------------------------
PDVSA and Shell announced plans to negotiate new joint venture
agreements to increase production from Lake Maracaibo and
develop Faja heavy oil. They also confirmed their commitment to
progress development of the Mariscal Sucre LNG Project during a
meeting in Caracas between the Minister of Energy and Petroleum
of Venezuela and Petroleos de Venezuela President, Mr. Rafael
Ramirez and Mrs. Linda Cook, Executive Director of the Royal
Dutch Shell Group Companies.

In the meeting Mrs. Cook emphasized Shell's long-term commitment
to Venezuela and reinforced Shell's willingness to work with the
Government and PDVSA on oil and gas developments within the
framework of the Venezuelan energy policy objectives. Mrs. Cook
said, "Shell has been a pioneer in the Venezuela oil industry
having drilled the initial commercial wells in the Lake
Maracaibo area. We are eager to expand our activities in the
country, including the realization of Mariscal Sucre LNG and
other oil and gas projects. With the parallel social investment
programs that Shell will undertake, we believe these projects
can contribute to the sustainable long-term economic development
of Venezuela and further strengthen its energy supply
capability.

Minister Ramirez stated the willingness by the Ministry and
PDVSA to develop further business opportunities with Shell. He
reaffirmed Venezuela 's intention to progress the Mariscal Sucre
Project for the development of the offshore North Paria gas
fields together with Shell, as well as their interest in
developing new initiatives.

To that end Minister Ramirez and Mrs. Cook agreed to early
conclusion of negotiations to enable investment to begin on the
Mariscal Sucre project, and expressed their willingness to
create a new joint venture for exploration and production
projects in Lake Maracaibo aiming at development of the Urdaneta
North Field. Shell is already successfully operating the
Urdaneta West Field. Shell and PDVSA are also considering a
joint venture for heavy oil production in the Faja using world
leading technology developed by Shell. Joint teams are being
established to negotiate definitive agreements for these
projects by the end of 2005.

CONTACT: Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.
         Corporate Public Affairs
         Apartado Postal 169, Caracas 1010-A
         Venezuela
         Fax: (58 + 2 12) 708.44.60.


PDVSA: Signs Cooperation Deal With Petrojam
-------------------------------------------
Venezuela and Jamaica signed a Letter of Intent to assess the
possibility to carry out joint businesses in the areas of fuel
refining, marketing, and distribution in the Jamaican territory,
thus strengthening energy integration and complementation links
between both nations, as contemplated in Petrocaribe.

The document was signed by the Venezuelan Minister of Energy and
Petroleum, Rafael Ramirez Carreno, and the Jamaican Minister of
Trade, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell. In this way,
Venezuela reaffirms its role as preferred partner and reliable
energy supplier in hydrocarbons international markets.

The agreement expresses the firm commitment to asses the
possibility of upgrading and expanding the PETROJAM Refinery, in
Kingston, capital city of Jamaica, which processes 36,000
barrels per day of crude. It also establishes the evaluation of
a technical, economic and trade feasibility study for PDVSA's
participation in Petcom Limited, a subsidiary of Petroleum
Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) to expand its service stations
network in this Caribbean country and other nations in the area.

"We are enthusiastically working to strengthen a strategic
energy alliance with Jamaica. By signing this letter of intent,
the Venezuelan Government ratifies its political will to
consolidate energy sovereignty in Latin America and the
Caribbean, in order to promote sustainable development in our
nations, based on economic, cultural, and social solidarity and
complementation", said the Venezuelan Minister Ramirez Carreno.

The Jamaican Minister, Phillip Paulwell, underlined that
"undoubtedly the strengths of the Venezuelan oil industry will
significantly contribute to develop our oil and gas potential.
As representative of the Jamaican Government and people, I am
very pleased with the mutual commitment we have signed
[Wednes]day in Venezuela , aimed at deepening our historic
energy relationship which will improve our nations' well-being"

CONTACT: Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.
         Corporate Public Affairs
         Apartado Postal 169, Caracas 1010-A
         Venezuela
         Fax: (58 + 2 12) 708.44.60.



                            ***********


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter - Latin America is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless
Hills, Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick,
Maryland USA. John D. Resnick, Edem Psamathe P. Alfeche and
Lucilo Junior M. Pinili, Editors.

Copyright 2005.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
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